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Lee Adamson

Please join me as I vlog about fixing up my old Apple ][e. :D

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My dad bought this thing new in 1983 for $1500, and we learned to program on it together. He kept the farm books on it until around 1996.

 

I found it buried in his office closet a few months ago as we were going through his estate, and my sentimentality made me decide to fix it up and try to make it vaguely useful again.

 

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I find it amusing you have in every scene a revolver in the background or on top of a floppy drive, somewhere ... Must be for the bugs eh? icon_smile.gif

 

Haha, I'm going to cycle in something different in each one. >_>

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Useful as a general-purpose computer I mean. I enjoy fooling with 8-bit stuff, but I like the idea of running Linux on the thing with enough RAM to use it as a general-purpose machine.

 

Erm, Linux on an Apple //e?!? All I can say is - good luck with that!

 

The only practical way of running linux in an Apple //e case is to replace the motherboard with a Raspberry Pi (or similar)... no way will you ever get Linux running on an 8 bit 6502.

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It's been done before. https://github.com/dschmenk/apple2pi Although at its core it really just uses the //e as a peripheral. Access to the keyboard, disk drives get mapped to raw Unix device files, etc. Then a //gs emulator running on the ARM hardware can get at the //e peripherals, as well as emulate whatever real peripherals don't exist (Mockingboard, etc).

 

I have some ideas to expand upon Mr. Schmenk's work a bit. There's an HDMI video card for the //e that's supposed to be released soon, and between that and a little microcontroller hackery I think I can get both the pi and //e native video outputs all on the same port. I'm going to clock the 6551 chip with a crystal instead of generating the signal via GPIO, too, and have the //e managing the state of the Pi board a little more closely. Still not an accelerator in the strict sense of a "straight CPU replacement", but more akin to the CP/M cards or the PC Transporter.

 

I have the 6551 prototype board about half built, and am in the process of grafting an additional 4 amp 5vdc power supply into the //e's PSU enclosure, so that I don't have to run the power-hungry high-end ARM boards off the //e bus. The older Pis will run off the //e bus, but I am a little leery of trying that with the 3B+ or the Rock 64. Wouldn't want to burn any traces on the motherboard!!

Edited by Lee Adamson

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It's been done before. https://github.com/dschmenk/apple2pi Although at its core it really just uses the //e as a peripheral. Access to the keyboard, disk drives get mapped to raw Unix device files, etc. Then a //gs emulator running on the ARM hardware can get at the //e peripherals, as well as emulate whatever real peripherals don't exist (Mockingboard, etc).

 

To be fair, this is *not* running on the 6502 - it's running on the ARM inside the Raspberry Pi. While it's very cool technology, for me it kind of loses the real essence of vintage computing. But each to their own. :)

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Fiddling around with the keyboard encoder, trying to suss out some things that aren't on the AY-5-3600-PRO datasheet (or which were on the datasheet, but I was too dumb to see).

 

Edited by Lee Adamson

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Assembling an A2Pi card on breadboard, since the factory-made boards are out of stock. I'll build a real one on perfboard later, once I decide what all I want to add to it.

 

 

Edit: * Since this is a RPi 3B+ (and I plan to replace it with a Rock64 once everything is working and nothing is blowing up), I didn't connect the //e's bus power to the GPIO header. The Pi board is being powered separately so that I don't overload the //e's power supply or burn any traces on the motherboard.

Edited by Lee Adamson

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I like to think of what the Apple // could have become, had Jobs not killed it off. We would have surely seen development beyond the //gs.

 

I'd like to think that the ARM cpu would have been a logical progression, being that it was an offshoot of the 6502 used in the Acorn boxen. Not compatible, but very similar. I can imagine an early ARM-based // with a 65816 coprocessor of sorts, which could take over the bus and drop into some sort of "compatibility mode" for older 65xx-based software. Eventually I imagine it would have given way to an optional compatibility card (as we saw with the Mac LC), and finally have been replaced with cpu emulation as we see today.

 

The // was always a much more open architecture than the Mac, too. It makes me wonder how OS development might have diverged from the path it took. ARM Linux wasn't a thing back in the early 90s, only Intel Linux, so I imagine some other kernel would have been chosen. But the // would have had to go to preemptive multitasking and protected memory at some point. Apple at its core has always been a hardware company, so I think it's not too far out to imagine that we'd have seen some sort of movement towards 3rd party OS development, or at least 3rd-party inclusions in a more open OS than the Mac went with (though the Mac didn't get protected memory until OS10, lol). I think a plausible outcome could have been some sort of GSOS-type finder running on top of a Mach microkernel, with the ability to drop to some sort of advanced BASIC command prompt. Or perhaps Lua; I think it was around in the early 90s.

 

The Linux kernel would probably have been ported to ARM a little earlier, assuming that the //s-that-could-have-been were more popular than the Acorn machines globally.

 

And as a more open architecture than the Macs, they may have given PCs a better run for their money. Commodore failed (IMO) because of bad management, so I think the Amiga would still have disappeared. But the // would probably still be here, and probably somewhat more popular than the Mac currently is.

 

I'm not trying to bash the Mac or anything. They're great machines, too. I loved the PPC architecture. But my understanding is that the // was killed off by management and internal competition (Jobs-ism, heh).

 

For me, it's fun to think about how things might have turned out differently, and to hack together stuff that "could have been", kinda. :) Perhaps not interesting to the retrocomputing purist, but.... Let's call it "Speculative Computing". :P

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I like to think of what the Apple // could have become, had Jobs not killed it off. We would have surely seen development beyond the //gs.

 

 

Job's didnt kill it off, he tried to and got booted from the company, and it proceeded to be the money maker until the late 80's then finally killed off in 1992 like 6 years after Job's packed his shit

 

you saw what it could do, its blessing the 6502 was also a bit of a curse as its 16 bit upgrade was a Mustang II of a chip and everyone except the IIGS and SNES went 68K instantly killing the direct n smooth upgrade path (meanwhile intel's to this day will still run MS DOS from a og IBM PC)

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